Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Peekaboo Times Two

All eight of the quilts I quilted and bound are all done except for one of the Aloha quilts.  I hope to finish that today.

On this post I am featuring two quilts which I call "Peekaboo" quilts.  I came across this pattern in a quilt magazine probably back in 2005.  It was given to me and I know it wasn't in American Patchwork and Quilting, McCalls, or Fons and Porter.  It was in one of the other, smaller, magazines.  I still have it and would love to share the information and designer, however, it is in a box somewhere in Kansas.  Or Missiouri.  I actually have no idea exactly where, but one of the biggest tragedies of our move to Hawaii was that nearly all my quilt books and magazines accidentally went into the pile for long-term storage.  At least, I'm really counting on the fact that they are there, and not lost permanently!  I first used the pattern to make a quilt for my sister's baby, then I made another for my sister's friend's baby, and now I've made two more, one for a girl and one for a boy.  They don't yet have a baby attached to them.  I love this pattern because it is a really easy quilt to make yet looks so impressive and is really not like any other quilt out there.
As you may be able to tell, the blocks are really just an uneven nine-patch joined together with thinner sashing and cornerstones.  However, the neat part is that the center of the nine-patch is composed of flaps covering another square of fabric, and when opened, reveal a "fussy cut" picture underneath.

Here is a picture of the same quilt with the flaps opened, showing some of the pictures.  I used novelty fabrics and simply chose "pictures" that I thought were appropriate to boys or girls.  You could do a theme quilt though, by using all fish, or dinosaurs, or farm animals, or licensed characters of your choice.  What I think would be really neat, though, is to do photo transfer fabric and put pictures of family members, etc. underneath.  It really makes for an "interactive" and personable quilt for a new child.

The first two photos were of the "boy" quilt, and this is the girl version.

And with the flaps open.

It is very easy to make.  You can draft out your own sizes, but these start with a 5.5" (5" finished) center square, fussy cut to feature the object of your choice.  Keep that size in mind when shopping for fabric or printing photos.  You also cut 4 5.5" squares of your flap fabric.

Here are some squares for the pictures. 

And here is one of the 4 squares needed for the flaps.  All you do is fold and press (carefully) diagonally once

And then a second time

And then topstich on both folded edges.  I hope you can see the topstitching in the photo above.  I had to be really careful folding my flaps with this fish fabric, because it is directional, and I wanted to preserve that fact, so that the fish were all swimming in the right direction.  With most fabrics, though, it doesn't require that amount of fuss.

Once all the flaps are done (this quilt has 12 blocks, so you need 12 "pictures" and 48 flaps) you start lining them up on top of the "picture" square. 
Continue adding the flaps and hopefully you pressed and topstitched carefully, so everything lines up nicely.  If you find distortion, you may want to remake some of the flaps.  This quilt isn't hard to make, so to look really nice, it should line up nicely and not have gaps, pleats, etc.

When all four flaps are down, and the middle meets up nicely, I like to tape the middle points all in place with a piece of masking tape.

Then pin everything carefully. And take it to the machine and BASTE around the edges.  You don't have to baste exactly on the 1/4 seam allowance, and in fact, I don't worry about sewing straight at all.  What I am focusing on is keeping everything in place and lined up.

Here is how the basting looks from the back.  You can also see that there are bits of flaps hanging over the edge of the picture square.  I trim those up.  I also leave the tape on!

Now it is just a matter of treating the flap-covered square like any other piece of fabric and construct the rest of the block.  The orange corner squares are cut 2 3/4" square and the side pieces are cut 5 1/2" x 2 3/4"  The only difference you may encounter is that you are going to want to press things as much away from the flap square as possible.  I joined the blocks together with sashing and cornerstones cut 1 3/4" wide.  The outer border was made from 2 1/2" wide strips, but  again, you can make everything your own, preferred size. At this point, you should remember to remove the basting from around the flaps.  If you do forget (like me) and can't do it until you have already quilted the quilt, that will work, too, but it is easier to accomplish while you can still access the back of the square!

The quilting needs some thought, too.  I start by layering and then removing the tape and pinning the flaps open.  I meandered on the picture fabric with invisible thread.  Then closed the flaps and quilted the rest of the quilt, being VERY careful not to quilt on the flaps! 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

More quilts and a burnt out lightbulb

This morning I got up and went downstairs and turned on the lamp under which I read and stitch while I watch tv.  (Yes, I do read and watch tv at the same time.)  The lightbulb promptly burned out.  I immediately got resentful.  In this house, changing lightbulbs is my husband's job just as if a button comes off his shirt, sewing it back on is my job.  We can both easily change a bulb or sew on a button, but he is the "expert" in electricity, ladders, etc., and I am the "expert" in sewing, needles, etc.  I quickly and easily changed the bulb myself but I was still resentful.  Not that I had to do it, but because when living through a deployment, the "missing" and the "hardship" etc. settles down to an annoyance level.  Like static on a radio station.  Over time, you learn to put up with it.  Big things happen, too, sometimes, like the car breaks down or someone gets hurt and it would be nice to have that partner to help out, to lean on.  But I have learned to expect those big events, and they are usually so fraught with frustration and other strong feelings, that I am focused on problem solving.  To me, the hard things are those little things, like a burnt out bulb or a centipede in the house (ok, maybe that isn't such a small thing) that make me resentful because it is like Life saying "ha ha ha ha ha, your husband is deployed!" Yep, life taunted me and I was resentful.  Until I remembered that I'm no ordinary wife.  I'm an Army wife!  So I stuck out my tongue at Life and said, "Yea, well, up your nose with a rubber hose!"  I feel better now.

Yesterday I worked on finishing machine quilting another quilt and hand sewing binding.  Again.  Still.  I did so while watching "Waking the Dead." on Netflix.  "Waking the Dead" is a British crime show sort of like combining Cold Case Files and CSI.  I like watching British crime shows because they seem to have writers who do not copy other show's plots and are not always predictable.  In otherwords, there is occasionally a plot twist that I didn't already figure out 10 minutes into the show.  Waking the Dead episodes also seem to be in two parts, so two hours allow for more plot development.  But since this is a mostly quilt-related blog, let's get on to the quilts:

Anyone out there read this book?
I did!  It was out last summer, but it wasn't until fall that I discovered that the author, Jennifer Chiaverini, had designed a fabric line for Red Rooster based on the book.  So a fabric line came out featuring Hawaiian quilts/quilting and no quilt shops in Hawaii carried it or knew about it?  Hmm, and I was surprised when one local shop went out of business... 
Red Rooster also has a free pattern for a quilt using this fabric.  You can find it here.  I liked it and set about searching for the fabric, but had trouble finding all I needed online.  I finally found a kit and a place to order some extra border and panel fabric (the panel features the stamped/stenciled looking hawaiian quilt patterns) so I got them.  Then at Christmas time I was on the mainland and in a quilt shop in Shipshewana, I discovered more border and panel fabric.  I passed it up at the time, but while over at the Blue Gate, eating chicken and noodles (is is an experience like none other--trust me) I decided that I could go back and get some more and use the opportunity to match other fabrics (not in the line, since the shop didn't have those) to the border and panel so I could make additional quilts other than the kit I got which makes one.  I knew those quilts would be popular here.  So after finishing my lunch, but skipping the pie (a huge mistake but I was way too full) I went back and using my smartphone, figured out what I needed and how much. 

So early this year I started.  I made 6 center medallions and then something interferred.  Maybe a deployment?!  And I put them away.  I got them back out a month ago and finished.  Here is how one looks:
But I didn't stop there.  I made three more.

Two are completely finished (with hanging sleeve and everything!) while I still am stitching binding on the other two.  So now I'm off to watch more British television and stitch under my bright new lightbulb!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another quilt finish and a thrift store find

The next quilt I'm featuring that I finally got quilted and bound is Alex's quilt.  I blogged about it before and after way over-thinking the corner squares and getting some much needed intervention and advice from some good quilting friends (thanks Joan and Kim) I finished the top, layered it, and promptly added it to the pile.  I finally quilted it on Sunday and it came out great.
So far I free motion a meander over my quilts.  But, I'm going to learn to do other things.  Somday...

Yesterday I popped into the thrift store on post becasue I was too early for the post office.  I looked around and didn't really see anything, but I had some more time to kill, so I kept looking and my eye finally fell on something in the bedding/linen section.  It is a hand crocheted coverlet/throw and it is marvelous.
Here is part of it.  It looks very LeMoyne star/tumbling blocks, doesn't it?

What is really neat?  The little crocheted pompoms!  They remind me of the fuzzy ball trims that are so popular right now, but they are all crocheted, not fuzzy.  I love it!  I have no idea where I'm going to display it, but I had to have it.  Oh, and one of the volunteers told me she had just put it out on the shelf.  It had been consigned that morning by an older woman who said her mother made it.

Today I'm back to hand stitching binding.  Anyone have any good streaming Netflix recommendations?  Yesterday I finally watched Whalerider--it was really good.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Granny Squares

Another one of this month's finishes.

Maybe you remember seeing this magazine out on the shelves last year?
It is the October 2010 issue.  I picked it up and was taken with the cover quilt.  The story that the designer, Lissa Alexander, provided was that one of her coworkers was going to teach a crochet class, but it couldn't happen right away, so while she waited to learn to crochet, she decided to quilt a granny squares afghan.

This design appealed to me for a number of reasons.  First, my great grandmother crocheted and made granny squares, so it immediately reminded me of her.  While I do know how to knit, I was never able to crochet more than the chain stitch, and yarn is just not my medium.  I love yarn and all the textures and fibers, but it does not love me.  Second, I practically never meet a scrap quilt that I don't like.  And finally, I loved how in constructing this quilt, the value of the fabric was altered in different places in the different blocks to achieve a wide variety.  It was so much fun!

Here is a good example.  I loved doing the outer most fabric of the granny square in an fabric almost matching my background, brown fabric, making some of the squares appear smaller.  I really remember that look in the old granny squares afghans.

Here is the whole thing spread out on my living room floor. (I just love having the balcony above for photographing large quilts!)  I precut all the pieces I needed from the brown (which is a Basic Grey grungy brown--since I scrapbook, I love having fabric that matches the paper I really like to use.)  But when it came to construction, I selected and cut the fabrics for each granny square and then sewed the block one at a time instead of chainsewing several blocks at once.  I will admit that I sort of cheated and used fabrics in similar color and value to what the designer chose for each block, but not always.  It was lots of fun to pull fabrics and make a completely different-looking block each time.  But you should have seen my quilting room--fabric containers and fabrics all over the floor!

The one aspect of the pattern that was a bit tricky--this pieced inner border.  It was all bias, so stitching it between two brown strips was challenging.  It required pinning and lots of careful sewing!  I must have done alright, though, because it lays flat and has the same number of segments on all four sides!


Monday, June 20, 2011

In a bind

I currently have 7 quilts piled on my loveseat waiting to have the binding handstitched down!  This has been the month of finishes.  Earlier, I got a box with three large quilts back from my longarmer and the good news is that all of them are completely done!  I have a new project that I am excited about so I made myself finish up some of the projects that have been sitting around--many of those were sandwiched, waiting to be machine quilted, so I have been busy doing them.  Once I'm "in the groove" with free motion quilting, it is easier to keep doing it, so I have really been having fun.  For me, free motion quilting is almost "zen like."  I become one with the quilt!  Needless to say, it is not the time for audiobooks.

I"m hoping to have a week's worth of blog posts about some of these finished quilts, so stay tuned!

First I would like to talk about the binding on my Roll Roll Cotton Boll quilt.  It is one I got back in the mail and was the largest of the three, and way heavy, so I procrastinated doing the binding.  RRCB was a mystery quilt featured on the quiltville.com website.  Bonnie designed it with pinks, greens, browns, red, and creams, but I decided to do mine in an Americana color scheme, so it is in reds, golds, med blues, navy, and creams.  I think I was planning on using navy blue for the binding, but one day while browsing the online quilt shops, I happened upon a red, blue, cream, and gold stripe by Jo Morton that looked perfect for my quilt, so I got a yard to use for binding.  I love playing with stripes and plaids for bindings.  The stripes were printed on the fabric at a 45 degree angle, so when I cut them on the bias, they were running perpendicular to the length of the binding.
The first thing I noticed when I tried to sew them together was that the pattern was directional.  The stripes would only match up one way.  Okay....

I figured that out and then tried to match them up and they were not lining up nicely.  Sewing on the diagonal and matching stripes just doesn't work too well, so I went on to Plan B

I pressed under one end of a strip.

And then laid it down on top of another strip, matching the stripes.  You can sort of see it in the photo above.

I folded the strip back...

Applied a small amount of fabric glue, and unfolded the strip once more, making sure that it lined back up again.  When the glue dried,

I opened it out again and took it to the machine...

And stitched, taking care to sew exactly in the folded crease.

So maybe the didn't come out absolutely perfect, but it worked well.

 All that was left was to stitch it to the quilt.

A whole lot of it...

And then hand stitch it down.  I like to do the corners first, and then the long sides.

Here is the finished quilt on my bed.  It isn't for my bed, but I have it there to see how it looks. 

This is a closeup of a finished corner.  Actually, it looks good, but I wish I'd used navy strips after all, because the stripe seems really busy to me.  But, I'm not going to redo it, and you don't notice the binding too much when it is on a bed anyway. 

Now I'm off to do more hand stitching.  Netflix is a good thing!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Quilts?

Several years ago, (well, over 6 at least) when I lived in Alaska, I was in a Thimbleberries club.  Included with all the club block patterns, was this bonus.  The instructor/leader asked everyone to make her a block so she could have a quilt by which to remember us.  I made one, and it was fun, so I made nine more to make the quilt.  It turned out pretty nice.
It wasn't too special, though, so I folded up the top and put it in a basket for "whenever."

Last summer, when I was in Shipshewana, Indiana, I bought the templates to go with this Laundry Basket Quilts pattern that I already had.

I liked the pattern and wanted to try to make it.  The templates helped a whole lot.  Now, I wanted to make the quilt, but I didn't want to spend a fortune on all the batiks that were featured in the pattern, so I turned to my large stash of Thimbleberries fabrics, because they all go nicely together.  I didn't have to buy any fabric to make this quilt.  I altered it slightly by putting on a different outer border.  The pattern features a 4 inch or so border of one fabric.  I wanted it a bit bigger and I had a lot of left over strips, so I pieced a strip border.  This quilt top looked great!

I wanted to get it quilted, so I started rummaging through my stash for backing.  While doing so, I came across the scrap quilt from above and realized it would make a perfect back for this one!  My longarmer is a pretty good master at lining things up, so I figured it would come out great, and boy, did it! I got two quilts for the price of one!

Here is a detail shot of the front:
The challenge in piecing this was that it is essentially a LaMoyne star, and any quilter with experience knows that LaMoyne Stars mean Y seams!  This was no exception.  I felt when I finished that I should qualify for some sort of masters degree in Y seams.

In summary, this quilt is from a Laundry Basket Quilts pattern, made of Thimbleberries fabric, and consisting of massive amounts of Y seams, so I have named it:  "Why (Y) not fill a Laundry Basket with Thimbleberries."